WASHINGTON (CBS DC) — NPR radio host John Harwood conducted a tense interview with Sen. Rand Paul on Tuesday when he continued to press the Kentucky Republican on a former staffer who has since been dubbed “The Southern Avenger,” by those accusing him of racism.
Paul made clear he had no desire to talk about the former staffer, Jack Hunter.
“He’s no longer on my staff,” Paul said of Hunter. “Many of the things he wrote were stupid and I don’t agree with [it], they weren’t things I was aware of or reasons why I hired him.”
Harwood pressed Paul on the “former shock jock,” but the senator insisted that he “wasn’t aware” of some of the writings and reports made about Hunter, and said he didn’t believe that any of the things he had read or heard were in fact racist.
Paul then pressed Harwood to refocus the interview to the senator himself, including issues of libertarian policy within the Republican Party.
“It’s unfair to paint a broad brush to say that’s who I am when I should be judged by the things I’m doing,” said Paul. “Why don’t we talk about Rand Paul and what I’m trying to do to grow the party, and then we might have an intelligent discussion.”
However, Harwood continued to press Paul about Hunter, reading from an article published by “The Economist.” The piece argued libertarian politicians have only found success by aligning themselves with “racist and nativist movements.”
Paul replied that he could stand with some of the “most progressive” members of Congress and hold civil liberties as high, or higher, as any other lawmaker.
“Don’t you have something better to read than a bunch of crap from people who don’t like me?” Paul snapped back. “I mean, that won’t make for much of an interview if I have to sit through reading after recitation of people calling me a racist.”
The interview finally changed direction when Paul insisted that Harwood ask him about issues such as indefinite detention and foreign aid to Egypt.